25.06.2010 - 26.06.2010
On last evening’s drive we again met the leopards. Our first clue to their presence was spotting a bloody, flayed impala carcass hung in the high crotch of a tree. Minutes later the leopard appeared and—perhaps thinking we might steal it—climbed up and retrieved her prize.
That was our highlight—night falls fast, and two hours into the drive we lost light and suffered a temperature drop of about 20 degrees. At six o’clock the driver stopped in the heart of the bush, lifted the table hinged to the front of the cruiser, and served us drinks. We enjoyed a fine South African red while our driver told us how he read tracks and the smell of urine to find our prizes.
There are twenty or so other guests at the Lodge. Three American pediatrics residents, a sweet young Scottish couple, a Swiss family, and a Danish couple, among others. Almost all are combining the safari with a soccer game or three. All interesting, and most fluent in English. We eat together, and well. Fine soups and salads, local game most nights, and truly gourmet desserts.
This morning we rediscovered the pride of lions. The females stroll casually, singly or in pairs; the male follows a distance behind. Our guide parked the Cruiser in their path, thus inviting them to pass on either side. One or two glanced up, but generally ignored us. Then the thick-maned male passed beside me, less than a foot from my arm. Just behind us, the lion roared a half-dozen times, His final roar began a low rumble and rose to a high tenor, a note so wild and free it touched some forgotten chord in us, terror and awe, until now crusted over with layers of civilization. I will remember that sound on my deathbed.
Our last quarry was a pair of cheetahs, slinking through low bushes and sliding over gray termite mounds. Though similar in appearance to leopards, the cheetah is larger, and has a longer thicker tail. Because they were on private lands we couldn’t get as close as we would like. But it’s OK—we’ve seen more things than we might have dreamed of, and all here on earth.
And now Josh will discourse on the US v Ghana soccer game.